Business, Politics

Bi-Partisan Suicide

09.30.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Bi-Partisan Suicide
Congress is pointing the hairdryer at the snowman bi-laterally

Well, it happened the way our forefathers intended. A corrupt Administration wanted to push something through without thinking and the House flipped them the bird, in a bi-partisan manner, sending the $700 bailout bill down in flames. It’s interesting, and somewhat ironic, that the House could have, and I’ll argue should have, sent such a message years ago but that they chose this time to reflect the will of the people. A time when, perhaps the people actually need to be protected from themselves.

I’ve expressed grave doubts about the bailout – but with the modifications that made it into the bill, it was much better than the initial proposal. Like Republicans, I’m very worried about the precedent being set for the government interfering in the marketplace and like the Democrats I’d like to see more help for “Your Street ™” (everyone is talking about Wall Street and Main Street – like most things, I think this is local, it’s about Your Street ™ – you heard it here first…)

Now the bailout bill has to be rescued, and ultimately I believe it will be. Again, I’d like to see more about Your Street ™, but it will do with some minor modifications. Now is time for the House to show some gumption and get this thing passed. Forget about the drop in the stock market, it will come out in the wash. The really troubling aspect of this is for small business, 80% of our businesses in the US, who depend upon credit (leverage) to do things like pay their staff while customers take their sweet time paying for their goods and services. This tends to be short-term stuff that covers the lumpiness of revenue streams in the small business.

Now, given that small businesses are denied access to this lever they’ve been using, their ability to grow is inhibited at a minimum, their ability to survive is often times called into question. It’s not about Wall Street, it’s somewhat about Main Street, and it’s all about Your Street ™. If you’d like to prevent catastrophic job loss and economic meltdown over the next few months, now is the time.

Finally, a word about politics in all of this. I was shocked – literally shocked – to read that John McCain’s campaign was blaming the failure of the bill on Obama for not working hard enough to get folks on board. The fact is, of the Congressional delegation from Arizona, Senator McCain’s home state, 4 Democrats and 4 Republicans, all voted against the measure. Over 60% of Republicans in the House overall voted against the measure. It’s hard for anyone to see that Obama had a thing to do with the bill’s failure.

McCain is getting desperate, he’s losing his mind, or he’s fraught with “senior moments” – none of these are good and a man who has been seen as a moderate leader is now being revealed as an erratic flip-flopper with bad judgment (Palin, lobbyists, suspending campaign) who has no grip on reality. No matter what one thinks of Obama, he’s certainly showing himself to be a more mature and stable leader in these times of distress. Does anyone what McCain to get that 3am call? Really?

Technology & Science, Travel

Trip to the Bone Room

09.28.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Trip to the Bone Room
Articulated Skeleton of Sumatran Spitting Cobra
Articulated skeleton of Sumatran Spitting Cobra at the Bone Room
Attribution: Bone Room

Have you ever wondered where you might find a set of human ribs? How about a lose ulna or fibula? Have you ever had a hankering for a bat skeleton set in lucite? How about a horse tail? Gemsbok horn? Do you need a human skull that was subjected to trauma, say a machete blow? How about Mexican Jumping Beans? A scorpion key ring? Better yet, a scorpion lollypop? How about a velociraptor skull casting? How about owl pellets? What about trilobytes? Giant clam shells?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, The Bone Room in North Berkeley is the place for you! Located on Solano Avenue, it’s technically in Berkeley but seems like it’s in Albany. My daughter and I had an adventure after her soccer game yesterday to go see the Bone Room. We had a delicious lunch at Barney’s Burgers and then went to visit this interesting shop.

On our usual trips to the Exploratorium, the museum has a decomposing body exhibit. Every couple of weeks they put a rat or a mouse or other dead small animal into an aquarium with an active skin beetle colony. Each time we go, my daughter wants to go see the bones first. Then we have to watch the cow’s eye dissection. She really is fascinated by the interior of the body. So, the Bone Room seemed like a natural destination.

If you’ve ever been to Paxton Gate in the Mission in San Francisco, it’s a bit like that store only no plants, tea, or taxidermy. The Bone Room is overall less “arty” than Paxton Gate and a bit more science oriented. You can pretty much get any natural science item there you can think of. We ended up with a few “pet” Mexican Jumping Beans and a bracelet that featured a darkling beetle in lucite. Someone was very excited with the trip and with the booty. We’ll go back sometime to be sure and if you’re ever looking for a piece of natural history, the Bone Room might be the place for you.


Debate Fact Check

09.26.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on Debate Fact Check

Via Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON – Some facts got lost when Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain confronted each other over the financial crisis, Iraq, the oil industry and more in the first presidential debate of the 2008 general election.

Here are examples:

OBAMA: “Senator McCain mentioned Henry Kissinger, who is one of his advisers, who along with five recent secretaries of state just said we should meet with Iran — guess what? — without preconditions.”

MCCAIN: “Dr. Kissinger did not say that he would approve face-to-face meetings between the president of the United States and (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad. He did not say that. He said there could be secretary-level and lower-level meetings. I’ve always encouraged that.”

THE FACTS: Obama was right that Kissinger called for meetings without preconditions. McCain was right that Kissinger did not call for such meetings to be between the two presidents.

In a foreign policy forum Saturday, Kissinger said: “I am in favor of negotiating with Iran.” He went on to say “I actually have preferred doing it at the secretary of state level” and the U.S. should go into the talks with “a clear understanding of what is it we’re trying to prevent. What is it going to do if we can’t achieve what we’re talking about? But I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations. We ought, however, to be very clear about the content of negotiations and work it out with other countries and with our own government.”

OBAMA: “John, you want to give oil companies another $4 billion” in tax breaks.

THE FACTS: The $4 billion in tax breaks for the oil companies is simply part of McCain’s overall corporate tax reduction plan and does not represent an additional tax benefit. In other words, the corporate tax reduction applies to all corporations, oil companies included. Both Obama and McCain have proposed eliminating oil and gas tax loopholes.

MCCAIN: “I’ve been criticized because I called for the resignation of the chairman of the Securities and Exchange commission.”

THE FACT: McCain did eventually call for the resignation of SEC Chairman Christopher Cox. But he first said that if he were president he would fire him, a step a president cannot take with the head of an independent regulatory agency. This is what McCain said on Sept. 18 during a rally in Iowa: “The chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the president and, in my view, has betrayed the public’s trust. If I were president today, I would fire him.”

OBAMA: Said he would make sure that the health care system “allows everyone to have basic coverage.”

THE FACTS: If that sounds like universal health coverage, it’s not. Obama picked his words carefully — stopping short of claiming outright that his plan provides health care for all. He promises to make health insurance affordable but would only require that children have coverage, not adults. Estimates of how many would remain without insurance vary. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said during the primaries that Obama’s plan would leave 15 million people uninsured.

MCCAIN: “We had an energy bill before the United States Senate. It was festooned with Christmas tree ornaments. It had all kinds of breaks for the oil companies, I mean, billions of dollars worth. I voted against it; Senator Obama voted for it.”

THE FACTS: Obama did vote for a 2005 energy bill supported by President Bush that included billions in subsidies for oil and natural gas production. McCain opposed the bill on grounds it included unnecessary tax breaks for the oil industry. Obama voted to strip the legislation of the oil and gas industry tax breaks. When that failed, he voted for the overall measure. Obama has said he supported the legislation because it provided money for renewable energy.

OBAMA: “We’re also going to have to look at, how is it that we shredded so many regulations? We did not set up a 21st-century regulatory framework to deal with these problems. And that in part has to do with an economic philosophy that says that regulation is always bad.”

THE FACTS: Some of the abuses that occurred stemmed from the 1999 repeal of a Depression-era law that separated banks from brokerages. In legislation supported by former President Clinton and Robert Rubin, now a top Obama adviser and Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, this separation was ended — allowing banks and insurance companies to sell securities.

But while regular banks were strictly regulated by the government, Wall Street banks and other non-bank institutions — many of the same institutions whose abuses led to the current crisis — were allowed to operate with less regulation.

MCCAIN: McCain said Obama voted to cut off money for the troops in Iraq.

THE FACTS: Despite opposing the war, Obama has, with one exception, voted for Iraq troop financing. In 2007, he voted against a troop funding bill because it did not contain language calling for a troop withdrawal. The Illinois senator backed another bill that had such language — and money for the troops.

MCCAIN: In a discussion of how the government could shrink spending, he said: “Look, we are sending $700 billion a year overseas to countries that don’t like us very much.”

The comment echoes one he made in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention earlier this month, when he was talking about money the U.S. spends on foreign oil. says the U.S. this year is on track to spend $536 billion on imported oil — not $700 billion — and nearly one-third of that comes from friendly nations: Canada, Mexico and Britain.

MCCAIN: “Senator Obama twice said in debates he would sit down with Ahmadinejad, (Venezuelan President Hugo) Chavez and (Cuban President) Raul Castro without precondition.”

OBAMA: “Now, understand what this means, ‘without preconditions.’ It doesn’t mean that you invite them over for tea one day. … There’s a difference between preconditions and preparation. Of course we’ve got to do preparations, starting with low-level diplomatic talks, and it may not work, because Iran is a rogue regime.”

THE FACTS: Obama was asked in a July 2007 debate whether he would be willing to meet “without precondition” with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Cuba and other rogue nations. Obama replied, “I would,” adding that it was ridiculous to think that America is punishing such nations by refusing to speak with them. Time and again since then he has been forced to defend the statement, both by Democrats during the primaries and by Republicans.

Obama has tried to draw a distinction between a precondition and preparation. He has argued that he wouldn’t demand that a foreign leader give in on some fundamental issue before the two sides met to discuss the dispute. But he has said “preparations” would require diplomatic contacts to gauge whether a formal meeting would be useful and to lay the groundwork for those talks

MCCAIN: Defending his call for Cox’s resignation, McCain said the country has lost the sense of accountability exemplified by Allied commander Dwight Eisenhower on the eve of D-Day. He said Eisenhower wrote one letter to be released in the event of victory, which praised the troops, “and he wrote out another letter, and that was a letter of resignation from the United States Army for the failure of the landings at Normandy.”

THE FACTS: Eisenhower prepared to take responsibility in the note to be delivered in the event of D-Day disaster but did not offer to resign.

The full text:

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Le Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.”


Post Debate Entry

09.26.08 | Permalink | 2 Comments

What a bunch of build up for so little content. Bickering, few facts, cheap shots, and half truths. Things that struck me as odd: “we are winning in Iraq” – hmmm, what does exactly the definition of winning?

Obama/McCain debate 1

The surge has reduced violence in Iraq and that is an improvement, but I still don’t see that we’ve got an exit strategy that leaves a strong, independent state – and hopefully a democracy.

A battle is being won? in Iraq with respect to reduced violence against US Soldiers, but the war is being lost in Afghanistan.

I’ll save you the 90 minutes of frustration in watching this content. McCain spends his time waving the flag and spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Obama spends his time condemning Bush and attempting to link McCain to those policies. Neither candidate was particularly effective, perhaps they should have canceled the debate…..

Business, Politics

OK, So What Happened?

09.26.08 | Permalink | Comments Off on OK, So What Happened?
The government dithers while the financial crisis intensifies

Yesterday it was reported there was a deal on the bailout. Then there was a meeting with the candidates and the President and the deal was off. Overnight, Washington Mutual failed. Uh, this is going to get worse if action is not taken…What the heck happened in that meeting to undo the deal?

Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama, we know you want to help. The best way you can do that is get on with your campaigns and be ready to vote when it’s time. Since neither of you are on the Finance Committee, this Washington watch is pure HUMBUG. Suspending a campaign, PUH-LEEZE. Does anyone buy that steaming pile of lie?

It’s pretty clear the McCain campaign is sinking and a distraction from that reality is necessary.

The debates, oh the debates. Well, I hope Obama does show up. If McCain isn’t going to make it, he should send Palin. If neither of them make it, then Obama should give a 90 minute exclusive interview to the press there making his case.

Meanwhile, candidates, get back on the trail and let your colleagues do the deal – stay out of it. We can’t afford to wait much longer on this…I tell you, our government could screw up a two car parade!

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